When you are unwell, a visit to the doctor should leave you feeling better than before, but sometimes, that’s not the case. You might end up being a victim of medical malpractice, which can negatively affect your life in various ways.
According to a recent report, medical malpractice is a leading cause of death across the country. Should you or your loved one be a casualty of medical error, here is what you need to know before starting a medical malpractice case against the hospital or doctor that caused you harm.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional is negligent in handling their duty of care to a patient. When there is a breach in the standard of care that results in injury or harm, it amounts to malpractice.
This means the doctor or medical professional acted unreasonably, which would not have been the case with another doctor under similar circumstances.
There are various ways in which medical malpractice occurs, and any of these scenarios can form the basis.
- Misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis can be medical malpractice. If a similarly qualified doctor would have correctly diagnosed you, it could mean you have a possible medical malpractice claim.
- Procedural or surgical errors are another instance. Performing surgery on the wrong part or leaving medical tools or gauze inside a patient is also medical malpractice.
- Other instances that can be cause for medical malpractice are prescription errors, failure to inform you of possible risks under the duty of informed consent, and infections acquired from lack of proper medical care.
Proving Negligence in Your Medical Malpractice Case
Like all other personal injury cases, medical malpractice hinges on negligence, and the law is different across states. For instance, if you intend to sue a doctor for wrongful diagnosis, you have to provide a preponderance of evidence in support of your claim.
First, there has to be a patient-doctor relationship that existed at the time of malpractice and the doctor breached the duty of care. There exists a legal obligation for doctors to provide you a certain level of care or treatment by adhering to professional standards.
Next, you have to show that the negligence led to your injuries or loss arising from the said injuries. This may include the pain and suffering the misdiagnosis caused you or the medical costs incurred to correct the wrongful diagnosis.
Other Aspects of Your Medical Malpractice Case
Perhaps the most important is the legal timeline you have to file your claim. The state sets the time limit and can verify depending where you live. This is known as the statute of limitations. It begins either from the time the medical malpractice occurred or when you discovered your injuries. Delaying will only hurt your claim.
Consult a dedicated medical malpractice attorney to help you build your case or to engage in negotiations on your behalf. Not many cases proceed to a full trial. An out-of-court settlement is the most common conclusion. You might also need a medical expert to weigh in on your case since sometimes there is a thin line between negligence and regular execution of duties.
How Much is My Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Worth?
The damages due to you in the case of medical malpractice depend on the extent of your loss. They may be economic, such as medical costs or lost income, and non-economic, like the pain and suffering you’ve gone through. Keep in mind that some states have a cap on the amount of damages that you can be awarded.